Prime Minister Boris Johnson has thanked churches for their role during lockdown and acknowledged the 'selfless stoicism' Christians have shown while church has been online.
The Prime Minister, who will be speaking briefly at the online Christian festival Spring Harvest Home said, "I want to say a great big thank you because over the past year or so I have seen over and over again the teachings of Jesus Christ brought to life by people like yourselves: men and women, young and old, right across the UK."
Johnson continues, "I've lost count of the number of Church leaders and congregations from all denominations, that have stepped up to support not only one another, but also to support the whole local community, people of all faiths and none."
The Prime Minister also recognised the sacrifice many Christians have made over the past year: "For many months you have been unable to come together for worship and prayer as you would normally do. I know that has been a huge burden for many Christians, but it is a burden you have borne with selfless stoicism without complaint and by adapting to online worship and meetings."
The Prime Minister concluded, "While this has not been the Easter any of us would have liked, and Spring Harvest is obviously not happening in its usual bustling way, we're getting there, and we're getting there because of people like you."
The Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey have also recorded a video message for those attending the online festival, with their own message to Christians in the UK, which will air on Easter Monday.
After their messages are aired, Christians from different political backgrounds will join a panel hosted by Andy Flannagan from Christians in Politics on how believers can be more active in politics as part of their faith.
Phil Loose, CEO of Essential Christian, the home of Spring Harvest, responded to the Prime Minister's comments by saying, "This is an important moment for the Church, to have the recognition of the Prime Minister for the work and sacrifice they have made shows how important the church has become in modern society. We are no longer a peripheral voice, but an essential service to those in our communities. Churches up and down the land have responded fast to the needs of the nation to see our society supported and transformed which is at the very heart of Spring Harvest; equipping the church for action."
He goes on to say, "Now is the time for us as the church to support our nation's leaders as we work together to restore, renew and rebuild our communities in the wake of a devasting pandemic. At Spring Harvest we're stepping up into that need providing resources online to help equip the church to serve their communities."
Spring Harvest Home 2021 begins on Easter Sunday evening with live sung worship from Tim Hughes and Gas Street Music. There will also be teaching from Emmanuel Christian Centre's Doug Williams and Kintsugi Hope's Patrick Regan OBE, plus an evening of comedy with Tim Vine and John Archer.